DePaul Prep Falls to Mount Carmel 7-0

The DePaul Prep Rams lost to Mount Carmel Tuesday afternoon 7-0. The Rams fell behind quickly to a very talented Mount Carmel Caravan team (1-2-1). The Caravan jumped out to an early lead and controlled the ball most of the game. The Rams record falls to 0-5 but they look to rebound tomorrow against CCL rival Fenwick.

I haven’t photographed a soccer game in a long time. Max Preps talented photographer Kristen Stickney was also at the game. She shot only with a 400mm lens from one spot for the whole game. I will be interested to see her shots. I think her goal was more about capturing photos of individuals. I was there just to get more of the action. Still, I need more practice at soccer games. I will have to get out to a couple more games this season.

2019 Von Steuben Day Parade

I joined the 47th Ward Regular Democratic Organization’s marchers in the 2019 Von Steuben Day Parade. I ended up photographing most of the Parade. It’s probably the third time I have photographed this parade. The 2 p.m. sun made for some harsh shadows. But I should not complain about too much light. The photos turned out pretty good.

Mount Carmel Handles Maine South 21-7

The Mount Carmel Caravan traveled to Park Ridge last night (September 6, 2019) to take on the Maine South Hawks and came away with an impressive 21-7 victory.

Caravan junior quarterback Justin Lynch, brother of head coach and former Chicago Bear Jordan Lynch, looked great both running and passing. He showed tremendous poise backed up in his own end-zone several times including leading his team on a 99 yard drive for a touchdown.

Mount Carmel should make a run at the Blue Division in the new CCL/ESCC super-conference and go deep into the IHSA playoffs.

DePaul Prep Rams Defeat Sullivan Tigers 32-12

DePaul Prep Rams move to 2-0 on the 2019 season with Friday afternoon’s 32-12 win over the talented Sullivan Tigers.

Football is Here--Lots of Changes this Season

It’s game day. Start of the high school football season. I have basically taken a month off since the last of the summer basketball tournaments, but I’m back and so is football. Big changes this year so let’s get into it.

Opening night.

The area’s top teams are starting with out-of-state opponents. Sun-Times #1 Nazerath and #2 Loyola play out-of-state. The highest ranked City of Chicago teams, Simeon and Phillips also have out-of-state games to start the season. Opening the season against out-of-state opponents is just dumb. Who cares about that? But don’t get me started.

The marquee matchup of the evening, in Chicago at least, might be #14 Mount Carmel v. Curie at Mount Carmel’s new Barda-Dowling Stadium on campus at 64th and Dante. It should be fun to see Mount Carmel with a true home field. I might have to head down to that one.

We have Lane v. Lake View to entertain us this afternoon in what I am christening the 47th Ward Bowl. Both schools are located in Chicago’s premier neighborhood and the athletic programs at both are on the rise. My alma mater, St. Viator takes on Prospect this evening. Hersey was the usual opening week nemesis back in my day. Now it’s neighboring Prospect High School to open the season. The Lions should have their paws full.

Chicago Catholic League and East Suburban Catholic League Combine for Football.

This football season is gonna be different. The Chicago Catholic League and the East Suburban Catholic Conference have combined for football—again. The CCL and ESCC have formed one combined conference with 24 teams in 6 divisions. Basically, all the Catholic high schools that play football in the Chicagoland area will be in what amounts to one large conference with six mini-conferences inside based upon the school size, football participation numbers and program success. Here is a link to the combined schedule: click here. According to the press release on the ESCC website, there was a unanimous vote in favor of the combination by all the principals of the CCL and ESCC schools.

As explained to me but DePaul Prep’s Athletic Director, Pat Mahoney, the ten member ESCC was have difficulty with some larger schools having successful programs and others struggling to compete. The larger fourteen school CCL, which was divided into four divisions based upon enrollment, football participation and programs success was able to split into divisions that provided a chance for the smaller schools to be competitive.

Older readers among you may recall they tried this before. From 1996 to 2002, the CCL and ESCC combined into the “Metro Catholic Conference.” The difference between then and now is that the Metro Conference required member teams to play a full schedule of conference games. There was no room for regional or historic rivalries. And no room for traveling out-of-state for games either.  The new arrangement has fixed that. The new CCL/ESCC will have only seven conference games. Each team can schedule two non-conference games.

I am looking forward to the new arrangement. It should give some the smaller Catholic school a chance at six wins and some playoff births.

DePaul Prep Football Preview.

Frequent viewers to this channel will recall that much of my coverage has been on DePaul College Prep teams. Big changes on this front as well.

Long time head football coach and Gordon Tech state championship team member, Bill Jeske, is out as coach of the Rams. Bill lead the Rams to much success during his tenure even with the challenge of declining enrollment at Gordon and declining participation in football on Chicago’s northside.

But Bill is not gone. He is staying on as freshman football coach. Something of Gordon remains.

Taking over for Bill as varsity coach is Michael Passarella. Coach Passarella comes from a stint as a game analyst with the Cleveland Browns, an assistant and offensive coordinator at the College of DuPage and as an assistant coach at a high school in Texas.

“Coach Passeralla has brought a new enthusiasm to the program. The kids are excited about football. We have increased participation. Winning six games and making the playoffs is not outside the realm of possibility this year,” Pat Mahony told me.

He might just be right. This year’s DePaul schedule is tough but doable. DePaul Prep Rams look to rebound from last year’s winless season. The Rams lost to Marmion, Chicago Hope, Leo, Fenton, Wheaton, St. Joseph, St. Ignatius, DeLaSalle, St. Rita and St. Laurence.

With the maturing of a young team lead by talented senior quarterback Zach Burhans and Sr. WR Michael “Mikey” Flynn, the Rams will surprise some people.

The CCL/ESCC schedule provides some significant changes as well. The Rams will take on Roosevelt (2-5 in 2018), Sullivan (6-5), Carmel (4-5), Leo (3-7), St. Laurence (4-7), Marian Catholic (1-8), Providence (5-5), Joliet Catholic (10-4 and 5A State Champion) and St. Joseph (1-9). Hopefully for the Rams, the addition of two CPS teams and the addition of Marian Catholic to the Red Division will give the Rams a fighting chance at a winning record. Carmel, St. Laurence, Providence and especially, Joliet Catholic will be long shots. Upset one of those teams, handle the rest, and there you have it—the IHSA playoffs. Once you’re in, who knows. Just ask Tom Kleinschmidt. The Rams basketball team won 3rd in state last year. Maybe the Rams football team could find itself in DeKalb come Thanksgiving. Just saying.

Preps Coverage.

In other news, Mike Clark took over for Beth Long covering football in the Sun-Times. We will be well served by the professional in-depth coverage by Mike Clark. Michael O’Brien will continue his coverage as well. It’s great to see the Sun-Times dedication to prep sports coverage. Michael O’Brien and Joe Henricksen do such a great job on basketball. Michael and Mike will be great working on football.

It seems the Chicago Tribune has completely abandoned covering high school sports. I looked at the Tribune website high school sports page. The last story published was from July. Embarrassing. There is such a void in coverage out there; a million stories to tell; a  million photos to publish.  

There you have it. My first long form blog post. It’s not exactly journalism. Not exactly commentary. I will try to do more. Throw in some news, analysis, commentary and photographs. Hope you like it.

First Day of R-B Summer Shootout in the Books

Riverside Brookfield High School was packed on Friday evening (June 21, 2019) for the Summer Shootout. Fun to see this year’s versions of high school teams.

There were a million college coaches in attendance. The special seating areas were packed.

I only saw parts of a few games: Notre Dame v. Ridgewood, De LaSalle v. Nequea Valley, Whitney Young v. Oak Park River Forrest, DePaul Prep v. Belleville West.

I got a preview of the Notre Dame Dons with recent Evanston transfer Luis Lesmond. The Dons did not impress in win over Ridgewood. They just looked they were going through the motions but poured it on in the end winning 63-37.

DeLaSalle did not not impress. Lots of reckless individual effort without a whole lot of team coordination. I did not get a good sense of Nequea Valley, except they were big.

I saw a little of the Whitney Young v. Oak Park River Forest game. I was impressed with the OPRF’s point guard Demetrius Dortch.

DePaul Prep knocked off Belleville West 46-30. The Rams led the whole way. Brian Mathews dominated early play on the boards and scoring inside. He made the difference early. In the second half, the Maroons dialed up the pressure. The Rams struggled to score inside and Maroons cut into the lead. Three 3-pointers late kept the Rams ahead. Under two minutes, the Rams made their free throws and expanded their lead to 16 points.

It was a typical Tom Kleinschmidt win. Get a lead, push the ball up the floor—“Go with it,” run a weave, shoot the three and make free throws.

Headed back out there this afternoon to see the rest pool play.

As for the photos, I really wasn’t there to take photos. So I apologize if the photos were not up to my usual standards. The light was pretty good in the Fieldhouse. I pushed the ISO high and didn’t worry about it too much. The photos are pretty grainy but the only purpose for the photos is this blog post. They are not going to a newspaper or website so it doesn’t matter.

Come out and see next year’s players and teams.

Ridgewood Varsity Shootout Recap

Fenwick walked away with the 1st place trophy by defeating Notre Dame at the Ridgewood Varsity Shootout Saturday and Sunday (June 8 and 9, 2019) at Ridgewood High School in Norridge. The interesting early look at the 2019-2020 teams showed me a few things: the Chicago Catholic League and East Suburban Catholic Conference dominated play; Notre Dame is as good as expected; Niles North’s Aquan Smart is quite a player; 3A is going to be improved with Deerfield and Orr.

The field of 32 teams included:

#13 York, 4A Regional Champ, 29-5 (10-2)

#15 DePaul Prep, CCL Blue Champs, 3A third-place, 25-10 (12-3)

#18 St. Laurence, 3A Regional Champ, 27-6 (11-4)

#19 St. Viator, 3A Regional champ, 26-7 (7-2)

#23 Lincoln Park, 23-9 (7-2)

#25 Loyola, 4A Regional champ, 22-13 (8-7)

Downers Grove North, 4A Regional Champ, 23-12 (5-7)

Benet, 24-8 (7-2)

Deerfield, 4A Regional Champ, 21-11 (7-3)

Niles North, 20-10 (5-5)

Notre Dame, 19-12 (6-3)

Except the winner wasn’t any of those teams. The Friars tore through Warren, Deerfield, Huntley and Notre Dame to take the tournament. Interestingly, the quarterfinal round that saw three teams each from the Chicago Catholic League and the East Suburban Catholic League. It was almost 7 of 8 Catholic school quarter-finalists as St. Ignatius lost to York in the final seconds.

As luck would have it, Fenwick was not one of the teams that I had a chance to see. So I’ve got nothing for you on Fenwick.

This was my first Ridgewood Varsity Shootout. In fact, the only summer showcase I have been to in fact was last year’s Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout. These things are not for the casual basketball fan. It mostly parents and a few coaches. The games are short. Not the normal level of defense is played. The kids are gassed by the time the final games roll around.

Being new to the high school basketball beat, I have a steep learning curve to climb, so I am trying to get up to speed at these summer tournaments. They are good opportunities to see a bunch of teams all on the same day and get a preview of the new line-ups. It also affords a chance to talk to coaches in an informal setting.  

I suppose the only bit of actual news I learned is that Orr and Deerfield are going to be in 3A this coming season. I have not confirmed this yet but a coach told me that Orr is moving up to 3A and Deerfield is moving down in to 3A. That significant improves the number of quality Chicago area teams in 3A.

As for Ridgewood, while the facilities were far from ideal, they were pretty good. I liked how close together the gyms were. It was easy to pop back and forth and keep track of two or three games at once. I also liked that if I got a seat just right, I could watch two games at once. I watched St. Viator play York and Loyola play Benet at the same time.

However, there was a serious draw back late in the day on Sunday. At the outset of the Notre Dame v. DePaul Prep quarterfinal game, ND star quarterback and point guard Anthony Sayles slipped and feel on court 4—the unairconditioned “old gym.” It seems humidity in the hot and steamy gym made the court very slippery. I heard DePaul Prep Coach Klienschmidt say that “the last thing he wanted to see was any of the kids getting hurt.” Klienschmidt and Notre Dame’s Kevin Clancy conferred and agreed to suspend play while the referees asked organizers about moving the game.

The organizers agreed to move the game to court one and push the championship game back a half an hour.

So, what else have I got?

Niles North’s Aquan Smart is every bit as advertised. He leads his team and has all the skills. Niles North lost a nail-biter to a St. Viator Lions team that Quinn Hayes had playing at high level despite losing two of the best players in school history, Jeremiah Hernandez and Trey Calvin, to graduation.

Likewise, Tom Klienschmidt had his Rams playing well. Junior point guard Ty Johnson is playing at a whole different level. Bigger, stronger and faster, T.Y. is poised to became one the best players in the area. D.J. Shower, Brian Mathews and Cam Lewis filled in nicely for the Rams trio of graduated stars, Perry Cowen, Raheem Anthony and Pavle Pantovic. Brian Mathews is scoring nicely. He has a chance to be dominant player.

The Notre Dame Dons look really good. I have no doubt that Anthony Sayles will be a dominant player. That is if he doesn’t miss a significant number of games leading the Dons’ football team deep into the playoffs. Word is he is getting interest from Big 10 schools to play quarterback. With Troy D’Amico and the rest of their skilled group, I expect the Dons to challenge Marian Catholic for the ESCC crown.

St. Patrick looks very good. The Shamrocks played their formidable zone defense on the small court frustrating opponents and then turned and ran the floor. They should give people fits as they always do.

Loyola and Benet are going to be well coached and disciplined as usual but not as big as they have been. Loyola was missing their big kids so this early look will change.

Lane has a whole new team. I only saw part of the Indians game against Downers Grove North, not enough to make any informed evaluation.

As for the photos, I really wasn’t there to take photos. I mostly wanted to get a look at as many teams as I could in preparation for the upcoming season. The photos I took were mostly for the purpose of including them with my live tweets.

The light in the gyms was actually pretty good. Reporter Mike Clark (@mikeclarkpreps) teases me about my gym light comments. It’s all for the reader—my contribute to high school basketball. I can point my fellow fans in the direction of the gyms with the best light. As we all know, the most important part of basketball is the light in the gym.

Ridgewood has good light during the day. It’s the skylights. They added necessary light missing from Ridgewood’s main gym during the evening games. To any school administrators or young architects out there, skip the skylight. Add more LED lights instead.

Nevertheless, the photos are below. I hope you like them.

Riverside-Brookfield Shootout Preview

Time to get back into basketball. The June 21-23, 17th Annual Riverside Brookfield Summer Shootout field and schedule have been announced. The field is packed with top teams including a Chicago area appearance by two-time 4A state champ Belleville West.

The 64-team tournament includes: Belleville West; 4A runner-up Evanston; 4A third place Curie; 3A state champ East St. Louis; 3A runner-up Bogan; 3A third place DePaul Prep; 1A state champ Providence-St. Mel; 4A sectional champs Stevenson, Bolingbrook and Simeon, 3A Regional champs St. Viator; 2A regional champ Uplift.

A couple of first round games should prove interesting. The DePaul Prep Rams, (CCL Blue champs and 3A third-place), take on Belleville West, 4A state champ the last two-years, late Friday at 8:45 p.m. The Rams recently murderous schedule adds a doozy. The Rams graduated three starters among the best in school history, Perry Cowen, Raheem Anthony and Pavle Pantovic. This game should prove quite a challenge for the Rams even though the Maroons will not have two time player of the year and Ohio State recruit E. J. Liddell. We should get a good preview of the Rams new look with the talented group of sophomores as well as juniors D.J. Shower and Brian Mathews.

Another interesting first round game is ESCC 2019 champ Marian Catholic against rival St. Viator, Saturday at 12:35 p.m. Pool M is curiously packed with Marian Catholic, St. Viator, defending 1A state champ Providence-St. Mel as well as Northern IL-Big 12 East conference champ DeKalb.

The Chicago Catholic League is well represented with 10 of its 16 teams in attendance. Conspicuous in its absence is CCL White Division champs St. Rita. Perhaps this has something to do with the recent dismissal of this coach Gary DeCesare.

The Chicago Public League also has top teams in attendance (in no particular order): Curie, Bogan, Simeon, Whitney Young, Uplift and Lincoln Park.

Frequent viewers of this channel know that I tend to concentrate on Chicago Catholic League and CPS games. I am looking to branch out some this year and take in more suburban games. I definitely have to see Max Christie at Rolling Meadows. The Mustangs take on Curie on Friday at 6:55 in R-B’s main gym.

I am also looking forward to seeing Notre Dame’s talented young team with juniors Anthony Sayles and Troy D’Amico. Marian Catholic better watch out for Notre Dame this season. The Dons are going to be good.

The thing about these preseason games is that they are not really like an in-season matchup. The games are quick, the lineups are fluid and don’t reflect the probable in-season starting line-up. There isn’t a whole lot of defense played. I wish I was a more seasoned analyst to tell one exactly what to look for. But I am neither a sportswriter nor a basketball expert. I am photographer and a fan.

As for the photography of this event, it doesn’t lend itself to great picture taking opportunities. Many of the games are in a field house and small gyms without the best light. I am also not as prepared as usual on which players to watch. I am not there to take photos as much as gain intelligence on the best teams to photograph in the upcoming season.

Nevertheless, I am jazzed about the start of the pre-season, at least for me. Hope to see you there—June 21-23 at Riverside-Brookfield High School. I see what I can do about getting some stories and photos up in IL Preps Insider as well.

DePaul Prep Edges Latin 4-3 to Win 2A Regional

The DePaul Prep Rams survived a very good Latin Romans team 4-3 Saturday evening at Kerry Wood Field to win their second consecutive 2A Regional Championship.

Wonderful game played by both teams. Romans played flawless defense. Rams pitching got the better of the Romans.

Rams move on to face Lisle High School at Illinois Benediction on Wednesday evening. The Rams beat Lisle 10-6 at Lisle in March. They look to repeat that performance and advance to the Sectional Final on Saturday against the winner of Aurora Christian (or Westmont—game suspended with Aurora Christian winning 10-0 in the 4th) v. Holy Trinity.

As for the photos, despite a 50/50 chance of rain at game time, conditions were pretty good. It did not rain at all. It was overcast but still pretty bright. No harsh shadows.

I shot at 1/2000 shutter speed and about 1000-1250 ISO. The high shutter speed is necessary for baseball. Next time it is bright I will go higher. The ISO graininess showed up on the tight crops but the real tight crops weren’t usable anyway.

I mostly changed around positioning. I was out on the field away from the fence, which I would rather not do but I had to change things up.

Not too many more baseball games this season. We’ll have to carry on next year. Hopefully by then I will have a 300mm 2.8. Absolutely necessary lens for baseball.

St. Ignatius Defeats DePaul Prep 10-2

The DePaul Prep Rams hosted the St. Ignatius Wolfpack Saturday (April 13, 2019) afternoon at Kerry Wood Field. The Wolfpack hitters were crushing the baseball, scoring two runs each in the first three innings. As is their way, the Rams keep fighting but could not come back, ultimately falling to St. Ignatius—10-2.

This had to be the high school baseball game with more well hit baseballs than any other I have seen. The Wolfpack absolutely pasted the baseball. Triple to the gap after triple to the gap after triple to the gap. St. Ignatius catcher J. Loftus hit a ball that I thought might leave Kerry Wood Field. I have never even seen one come close to hitting the fence. I had to watch to see if would go out. It didn’t.

St. Ignatius student photographer, junior Luke Hales, made his way up to the 47th Ward’s Kerry Wood Field for the game. He got some bad info on the start time and arrived a little later for the 4:00 p.m., start time. It didn’t much matter. He got some great shots. Luke is a very talented photographer and he’s like 16 years old. He knows how to operate the camera. Great color on his photos. He is developing an eye for composition.

My photos are not my best work. I struggled a little with the late afternoon light and shadows. The manual ISO was a problem. I should have gone auto. Nevertheless, shooting the game was useful. The photos might be ordinary, or worse, but I learned something.

Lincoln Park Zoo

I went to Lincoln Park Zoo this morning with Carol and my nieces, Fiona and Veronica. I had never taken photos at the zoo before today. Didn’t know what I was in for. Kind of a day to figure out how to take animal photos. The principal lesson is tight photos are best. Tight photos require a 300mm. I didn’t have one with me.

The flamingo pictures are nice. The midday light on the lions photos did not work. I have to go there in the late afternoon or evening to get good lion photos. I will definitely do that. I love the lions.

The bird photo is interesting. It was through dirty glass with high ISO.

St. Rita Defeats DePaul Prep 12-0.

No other way to put this, the DePaul Prep Rams took a shellacking at the hands of the St. Rita Mustangs, 12-0, at Kerry Wood Field Saturday morning. I wasn’t there to write a story so I am a little short on details. The details wouldn’t be pretty anyway.

I was there to get some good daylight baseball photos. There was a low haze this late morning. A little overcast too. I set up the 5D with the 24-300mm 5.6 to get some behind the plate. I set the shutter speed at 1/2000. It worked. I got some good shots with a frozen baseball. I had to push the ISO to 400 but that doesn’t make much of a difference on a full frame 5D Mark IV. The photos from the 70-200mm 2.8 are noticeably sharper that the 24-300. I really need to get one of those 300mm 2.8 lenses.

I wanted to settle on the best positions for baseball as well. It seems that the first and third base sides just back the dugouts are the best place for the most shots. Behind the plate is only good for photos of the pitcher. One can’t get good shots of action in the field from there.

So here are the photos. I have a lot more work to do getting good photos of this year’s edition of Rams Baseball.

DePaul Prep v. Peoria Richwoods

These are not my best photos. I had not planned to shoot this game. I knew I could not stay. I was driving by, my camera was in the trunk, so I thought I would stop and take a few photos. I used the 24-300mm, f5.6. Not the right lens for night baseball but I thought I would give it a try. This pushed the ISO too high making the photos grain and not sharp.

Okay, excuses out of the way, I got lucky on a few. I will be back to get some good ones when I can plan it out better and use the proper equipment.

Stay tuned.

IHSA Boys Playoff Weekend Recap

We are a week separated from the IHSA 3A and 4A Boys Playoffs now and I am now getting around to the recap. I spent last Friday and Saturday in Peoria photographing as many games as I could.

I found out one cannot photograph and process all the games in real time. Two games per day is about all I can do and get galleries and stories up on a timely fashion.

As for the games themselves, they did not disappoint. Well, except for the first game, where m y DePaul Prep lost to Bogan. The Rams had good shots early but they would not fall. Credit to Bogan. They put on a stellar defense effort basically shutting down everyone on DePaul except Perry Cowen. After that East St. Louis impressed against a tough and scrappy Peoria Manual team in a very entertaining battle.

4A was especially fun. I have seen Evanston five times this year and a couple times last year. Very good and entertaining team. Extremely well coached. Sr. guard Jaheim Holden has to be one of the most exciting players I have seen in the past few years. The Wildkits handles Rochford East who I had not seen. Evanston posses so many matchup problems. Rockford constantly lost track of sophomore Blake Peters and he made them pay. Peters was 7 for 8 from beyond the arc—just deadly.

Then the biggest game of the season so far, Curie v. Beilleville West. E.J. Liddell is better than advertised. Gonna be star at the next level. He has it all. Curie lost composure at the end. The Condors just ran out magic and one by one their best players fouled out.

DePaul Prep refocused and came out wanting to end the season with a win in the 3A Third Place game on Saturday morning. They did just that, soundly defeating a Peoria Manuel team that did not want to be there.

Frankly, I was busy working on photos of the DePaul v. Manuel game and I didn’t see much of the 4A Third Place game. As I recall, Curie won but what I remember is that they didn’t want to be there eight.

Then the premier Evanston v. Belleville West 4A Championship on Saturday night. What a game! It was tough for the Maroons to matchup against Evanston early. The Wildkits came out running and opened a seven point half time lead. As good as the Wildkits looked, Belleville West was playing Evanston’s game and stayed right with the Kits. One just got the feeling at the half that the Maroons would overcome.

That they did. No three pointers for Blake Peters. E.J. Liddell got the ball inside and either scored or dished it off for an easy backdoor bucket. The Maroons overcame and pulled away. It was quite a show.

And then, all the sudden, it was over. Time to go back to Chicago. It just left me wanting more.

Thanks to all for another wonderful high school basketball season. The R-B summer tournament will be here soon. Then the Thanksgiving tournaments. See you then.

As for the photos, these are a few good ones I got over both days. I hope you like them.

DePaul Wins IHSA Third Place 64-44 over Manuel

The DePaul Prep Rams did what so few get to do—win their last game of the season. Okay, it wasn’t exactly the best way to do it but the Rams got to get a little of the bad taste our of their mouths that they would carry around until November. The DePaul Prep Rams, 26-10, wanted to win and played like it. The same cannot be said about their opponent, Peoria Manuel.

In yesterday’s semi-final Manuel gave eventual 3A champion East St. Louis all they could handle losing a fast-paced physical game, 57-48. Manuel seemed in no mood to play and it showed.

DePaul sophomore guard Tyler Johnson lead all scorers with 15 including two three-pointers. Senior guard Perry Cowen finished with 13 points in his final high school game before going on to play at Brown University next fall. Senior guard Raheem Anthony had 10 points.

The DePaul Prep Rams finished the school’s most successful season in 19 years, The Rams won the Catholic League Blue Division and finished third in the state in 3A.

The future is bright for the Rams. Ty Johnson, Lance Mosley and a host of Catholic League champion sophomores return.

Evanston Out Guns Rockford East 94-82

It didn’t seem that close. The Evanston Township High School Wildkits (31-4) came out firing on all cylinders against the Rockford East E-RABs. The Kits opened up a 25-15 first quarter lead and never looked back. Well, except they actually did in the third quarter when the E-RABS out scored them 29-20.

The game never seemed in doubt despite a valiant charge by Rockford East. Evanston’s Sr. forward Blake Peters went seven for eight shooting threes. That’s just spectacular. He lead all scorers with 27 points.

Be careful what you wish for. The Wildkits will face Belleville West who destroyed a 34-1 Curie team, 70-48, The Condors just came off an impressive comeback victory of Simeon and looked to be unstoppable. Belleville West’s two big men, E.J. Liddell and Keith Randolph dominated the paint and got Curie into foul trouble.

It should be a fascinating championship game of teams with contrasting styles. Evanston is quick, athletic and great shooters. Belleville West is big, athletic and good shooters. My money is on Evanston, but I thought Curie would win so what do I know,

Stay tuned.

DePaul Prep Falls to Bogan 51-31 in 3A Semi

The DePaul Prep Rams lost to the Bogan Bengals 51-31 in the IHSA class 3A semi-final this afternoon (March 15, 2019) at Peoria’s Carver Arena. The Bengals, ranked #2 in Sun-Times Super 25, 29-3, topped the Rams in all phases. The Rams struggled out of the gate. They were getting good shots but they would not fall. Rams Sr. Guard and Brown recruit Perry Cowen was the games leading scorer with 14.

The Rams will face the Manuel, also the Rams, tomorrow in the 3A game at 11:00 a.m. Bogan advances to face East St. Louis in the 3A championship tomorrow afternoon.

DePaul Prep Defeats St. Viator 62-53 and Advances Directly to State Finals

The DePaul Prep Rams defeated the St. Viator Lions 62-53 Friday (March 8, 2019) winning Grayslake 3A Sectional and advance directly to State Finals in Peoria next weekend because of the disqualification of both North Lawndale and Farragut after a fight at the end of their game.

DePaul Prep v. St. Viator Preview

So here we are.

Today is the day of the sectional final between the St. Viator Lions and the DePaul Prep Rams. Many have been waiting for this day since before the IHSA announced the sectional assignments months ago. It was not a secret that the Lions and the Rams are the two best teams in the Grayslake Central Sectional and probably the two best 3A teams north of Madison Street.

Both teams started out gangbusters and hit a rough patch near the end of the season. St. Viator’s Treyvon Calvin broke a bone in his hand and missed several weeks. The Rams suffered a couple losses in their killer schedule and fell out of the rankings for a bit. Each team rallied, the Rams won the Chicago Catholic League Blue and took care of business in the playoffs and here we are.

Some may know that I have connections to both schools. I graduated from St. Viator in 1981. My brother Dan is a Viatorian priest and taught there for many years. My sister is on the Finance Committee. I have several cousins that are students there now.

And my children attended to Gordon Tech, which then became DePaul Prep. I probably have a dozen close friends and relatives that attended Gordon Tech. It’s a neighborhood school. Since my children started at Gordon, I have gotten to know the coaches, teachers and administrators at the school. I have been photographing Gordon Tech and DePaul Prep athletics for several years now.

I like to think of myself as a photographer, a photojournalist. On occasion, my photos are published so I try to work by journalistic standards. Frankly, my photos are much better when I am concentrating on taking pictures and not watching the game. But I am not really a photojournalist—at least not for today’s game. So I guess I could be rooting for a team.

Joe Henricksen in the Sun-Times makes predictions about which teams are going to win sectional finals. I am much too superstitious for that. My Irish heritage won’t allow such a thing. But I will however offer some thoughts.

The Rams and the Lions match up well against each other. Jeremiah Hernandez and Perry Cowen are similar players. Trey Calvin and Raheem Anthony are similar as well. Conor Kochera and Pavle Pantovic can both play and contribute mightily inside. The size of the players over all is pretty close. Both teams can play excellent defense, can run the floor and play a half court game.

The Lions have been ranked higher than the Rams most of the season. I generally agree with Michael O’Brien and Mike Clark’s rankings but at this point in sectional finals rankings don’t mean much. I guess they will just have to play the game. I am lucky that one of my teams will probably make it to Peoria. That will be tough for me to shoot the state finals and have one of my teams playing. There I will be a photojournalist and can’t have a rooting interest. I will have to find a way to deal with it.

And in the immortal words of Paul Chabura . . .